March 17, 2009
Michael the Syrian and global warming
The publication in a freely available form of the first two volumes of Chabot's translation of the great Chronicle by the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch, Michael of Antioch, is very welcome: the producer and the Internet Archive are to be congratulated on a publishing coup.
Dorothea Weltecke described the contexts in which the Chronicle was written and translated in "The World Chronicle by Patriarch Michael the Great (1126-1199): Some reflections", in the Journal of the Assyrian Academic Studies 11 (1997), 6-29 - followed by a further paper in July 2000, "Originality and Function of Formal Structures in the Chronicle of Michael the Great". In the late 12th century, she says, there was controversy in the Syrian Orthodox Church about whether or not God was still in control of history, and this explains why Michael carefully catalogued catastrophes such as earthquakes, droughts and famines. Nine centuries later, man's impact on the planet has brought similar questions to the fore again - informed by modern catalogues of earthquakes, droughts and famines.